I am not alone
Summer. The warmest season of the year….long days, warm nights; beautiful sunrises and sunsets; breathtaking thunderstorms; and days that are filled with activities that lead to great memories. Last year I described this time as relaxed and carefree. This year I can describe it as being crazy busy, trying to fit everything in without feeling overwhelmed and anxious. It was one of those summers where I had to laugh or I’d end up crying—totally different than last year, but still memorable. What I have realized this summer is you can’t replicate what has happened in the past. You can have all intentions of doing that, but it’s never the same as when that moment actually happened. We get older, our kids get older, and the memories we make, change. It was hard for me this summer when thinking about my Gracie. I think about her every minute of every day, but when I’m on vacation,I think about her even more. As I was sitting at the beach this summer, I was thinking about my Gracie and panicked as I realized I’m starting to forget things about her. I’m forgetting what it felt like to hold her, I’m forgetting the sound of her voice, her cries, her snuggles, her hugs. I’m forgetting what that physical touch with her was like. As a mom, that’s hard. As a mom, I’m supposed to know her inside and out. I’m supposed to comfort her when times are tough and celebrate with her during the good times. The hugs, kisses, snuggles, laughter, giggles, and talks have been missing for seven years, and what I remember from the past is becoming more distant from my memory. Those moments from the past can never be replicated again; they are just memories…memories that don’t bring that physical touch, but instead are a vision of the time we once had… a time I am deeply thankful for.
Every day, every year, every summer without Gracie has its challenges, and this summer was one that I needed to overcome. But it is not that easy. This isn’t something that you can connect with a lot of people on. It’s a subject that makes you feel very alone. So to try to overcome this, I decided to focus on remembering our memories by looking at pictures, still thinking about her (just as much as I always do) and looking for signs.
Last year at camp I received a sign during our last week. It was a great one. One that I believed was incomparable to any others and one that couldn’t be matched. I won’t bore you with the details, as it’s all in last year’s blog from August, but I will tell you it had to do with sea glass from our time at camp. So this year as I worried about missing that physical touch, I anxiously awaited a sign. I can compare this to watching and waiting for a pot of water to boil! When you want it to happen, it doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, there were signs, but they were the type of signs I get everyday. I saw lots of bunnies and dragonflies, which I feel are signs from my baby girl, but I wanted more! I needed more. Where was my big sign? My sign that was different from the rest? My sign that she’s ok? That we’re ok? I anxiously awaited this sign as the whole month passed by, and I almost accepted that I wasn’t going to get that sign I was hoping for.
On our last full day at camp, we headed down to the beach. It was hot and sunny, and the beach was pretty busy. The lake wasn’t completely calm, but it wasn’t stormy, either. It had small waves, and the air was heavy, as if there might be a storm on the way. As I began to set up, I realized there wasn’t too much room between our large, loud group and a lone woman who was quietly enjoying the beach (and probably the peace and quiet). But there was no where else to go, so I positioned myself in my beach chair next to my sidekicks, and we watched as the kids swam and went on walks to find sea glass. Not too much time passed before the clouds in the distance turned dark and gray, and we heard the sound of thunder. Everyone came out of the water and waited for a few minutes. Another loud crack of thunder came, but it was still distant. I took out my phone and looked at the radar. It looked like some intense storms were on their way, but we were right on the edge of the storms, so it looked like we were going to miss them. The lifeguards closed the beach and every single beachgoer left, except us and the lady whom we set up right next to. Being that it was our last beach day, I told everyone that I was not leaving and that the storm was not going to hit us. So, the majority of our group stayed and watched the storms travel across the lake for hours. We had a blast. We got rained on for a few minutes, but it was welcomed, as it was so hot out. Once it started raining, I thought for sure the woman who was basically sitting right in our circle would leave. She did not. Instead, she started talking with us. She immediately befriended one of my friends, and as they were having a conversation, I heard her say she doesn’t mind the loudness of our group because she has a big family and she’s used to it. Then I heard her say she recently lost her two year old grandson. After that comment, I was half listening because I froze. I thought to myself, I am not alone. This woman talked for quite some time about this tragedy to my friend as I wandered about chasing Ava. When I came back, she came over to me and expressed her condolences about Gracie, and we talked for a few minutes. She looked at Ava and knew that she was my rainbow baby. How ironic that we set up next to this woman? And that every single person on the beach left in fear of the thunderstorms except our group and this lady? And she felt comfortable enough to talk about her grandson’s tragic death? Maybe it wasn’t ironic, but meant to be. He and Gracie were about the same age when they passed away and the couple who lost him are trying to have another baby. I told her to tell her kids to have faith; we are living proof that faith goes a long way. For when the storm passes, there are always blue skies waiting behind those clouds. And guess what we saw when those storm clouds passed? The most beautiful sunset I had seen during our entire time at camp.
We never got those thunderstorms, but they could be heard loud and clear from a distance. I heard you, Gracie. I received my sign. I was not alone.